Usually my November column is a time to reflect on all things outdoors for which I'm thankful. This year I decided to take a bit of a turn and talk more about kindness on the trails. Often we're so focused on our own ride, hike, or run that we miss out on opportunities to just be nice.
For instance, when biking, if you see trash that has fallen out of someone's pack (water bottles, tire tools, and KIND bars are all things we've found), take a minute to stop and pick it up.
Yes, it might mean having to stop in the middle of a fun downhill stretch, but what you're doing will mean the next person along doesn't have to stop in the middle of their fun downhill!
When you're biking or hiking and you pass others on the trail, take a moment to say "hi" or "thank you" if people have moved over so that you can continue your trail time without stopping. It might seem like a little thing, but we're all out there together and acknowledging that can make a big difference.
Perhaps that lone hiker you just passed was having a hard day and by giving him a smile and a thank you, you just made that day a little better.
Take a bit of time to encourage others. If you've stopped to walk a tough section of trail and a rider comes along and cleans it, maybe give a "nice job!" comment as they go by. We all love it when people compliment us on our achievements. That person might be a stranger, but they're a fellow biker and we all know how challenging some sections of trail can be.
Thank your trail crews.
Maybe you think we should already have more trails, or maybe you don't agree with everything that COPMOBA or the BLM does, but in the end, they (and lots of volunteers) are a large part of the reason we have great trails to hike and bike.
We can thank them by not riding when trails are wet, by making sure to keep singletrack single and by volunteering to build trails when we can.
Help out-of-towners. It's usually obvious to locals when riders are confused about trail signs or unsure of which trails to ride. Offer advice on your favorite trails, give suggestions on beginner loops, and if you've got an extra copy of a map or RIDE in your pack, offer them that, too!
If nothing else, just remember to treat others as you like to be treated. Strike up a conversation, let faster riders pass, say "thank you" and help us all to be the best trail stewards we can be. Remember, the next time you're traveling to a new bike area, you might be the one who needs help finding a trail or needs that encouragement when tackling a technical section.
I hope you all found time to GET OUT and bike or hike on Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of you who show our trails some love, support the outdoor industry, and enjoy reading my ramblings each month.